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Are they really the same in every respect? What are the differences if any? In India, they're always called waiter regardless of the size and exclusivity of the establishment. Is it the same in the US? Is there any regional preference in usage? I am more interested in knowing about real-life usage of the terms instead of what the dictionary says.

P.S. Please also mention where you're from so I know what dialect your answer pertains to.

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In New York (where those who are not "politically correct" are social pariahs) most corporate-run eating establishments prefer their wait-staff are referred to as "servers". However, in a private restaurant, (formal or informal) unless someone introduces themselves as "your server", it is still proper to say "Waiter," "Waitress," or "Bus boy/girl". "Captain" and "Maitre d'" are unchanged for male and female.

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    In the Deep South, U.S., a restaurant at which I've spent many pleasant hours got around the distinction of waiters being men and "waitress" being somehow demeaning in the eyes of the politically correct crowd by referring to the fetchers of food as "waitrons." That was quickly shortened to "'trons" when a collective noun was needed. However, this being a family restaurant, (most) patrons and staff were on first name basis. Elsewhere in the urban South, United States, "server" is common; a notable exception is another family restaurant where the waiters are all male and all "waiters." – Bob Brown Nov 29 '14 at 18:01
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In US, server is more common. They even refer to themselves as server. I also personally prefer server to waiter/waitress. Think about that someone's job is to serve, doesn't it sound better than that someone's job is to wait?

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